Chapter Thirty-Nine: Illusions

Glancing back, he knew his past self and father would be talking, pondering. His ki would be almost impossible to track down here because he and his past self had identical signatures. Still, he wouldnt put it past his father to try and that just wasnt something he could risk right now. He had seen him, briefly, and he had nearly frozen.

No, that wasnt something to risk right now. He had too much at stake.

He shook his head again. He had finally gotten here, he had struck a nerve with his younger self. It may propel him to achieve what he had failed to do in time. That could rewrite this future. Could rewrite dozens of fates! Not just his own or his fathers but so many more. He knew enough about time travel to know he was taking a tremendous chance. Time wasnt usually meant to be messed with, in any kind of way. It was like a river, that wove and carved its way through, making out Fate as it went.

Once you introduced time travel, it was like pitching stones and boulders into the waters. You didnt know what all the disturbance would do. It could completely alter the path, change what direction it flowed, how fast or how slow. However, in Gohans mind, no matter how it was altered, it could not possibly be worse than the future he came from. So much unfairness, so much pain and sorrowif he had even a small chance of changing that, altering it, then he would!

Maybe he did have selfish reasons, he reasoned and admitted to himself. Maybe he had to admit that everyone was safe in his future, not like this Trunks future. Maybe the Cell in his time had been destroyed, maybe the Androids had been freed from their heinous fate. Maybe the dead had been resurrected..

Well, all but one.

That was selfish he supposed, risking the chance of altering time and space all for one person.

Well, no, not for one person. He did this for everyone he knew, everyone that had been touched by that death that shouldnt have happened. The wife that was now a widow, the friends who were lost without a leader, the son who would never know his father.

He shook his head. If he did this for ANYONE, it would be for him, the son who would never know his father because of him.

Not here, not in this time. Not again. He refused to let it happen again. He refused!

Ever since his fathers death, he had become obsessed with making up for something he considered his own fault, despite how many people told him it was not. It had been a good two years before he figured out how to make his way back through time. That had been an imperfect art. His first attempt had wound him up back to right after Trunks had arrived the first time. He had made use of it, prompted his younger self to fight back against the illness he had taken on for himself and in doing so, his younger self had reached Super Saiyan three years before he had. It had been a start.

Speaking directly to someone mentally as he had then or, as he had been of late, only being able to be seen by one person, was hard as hell. It was a manipulation of ki, directing it at one person, whomever you wished to speak to or interact with. He liked to just talk if he could because making your physical body so distorted by ki that only a few people could see it was hard and draining. He wasnt nearly as strong as he usually was because he had to constantly command his ki to swirl and hide him. His concentration had faded when his emotions had welled up, which had allowed the Goku of this time to see him and knock him off his younger self.

No point in doing that anymore, he reminded himself. Goku knew he was here so wasting energy hiding himself was stupid. His younger self knew who he was now, that much he was certain. He had never been a stupid boy. It wouldnt take long for the younger him to connect things and realize the same voice that had spoken to him when he was sick with the heart illness had been him as well.

Slumping down, Gohan sat on the still white landscape, lying his chin onto his knees. How had it come to this? How had he would up parading around the time lines like it was a walk on the mountain? He knew he wasnt supposed to. He knew for a fact that in his own time, his mother and other friends were probably worried sick about him. He had been gone for a week the first time, then this timewell, it had been two or three days already and if he remembered well enough then it would a good week and half, maybe two before he could return to his own time. That was the bad part about using his way of time travel as opposed to Bulmas time machine. His way was far more inaccurate. He might wind up gone from his time for a month or more.

Dende had told him that if he did that, he wouldnt be able to cover for him again. Dende had come up with an excuse when he had vanished for the first time. He couldnt even remember what it was but he knew Piccolo hadnt bought it. But he couldnt depend on Dende to cover for him again. When he got home, whenever that was, he was sure his mother would kill him.

He shook his head Worth it. He muttered to himself.

He sighed deeply, lying down on the white landscape, shuddering as the icy cold winds blew in. He raised his ki to keep his body from freezing even though he knew that may well bring out his younger self. At least he didnt have to worry about his father finding him. His ki was identical to his younger selfs. Itd be too difficult to distinguish the two.

He shivered in the icy wind. He was cold. He was hungry.

But lonelyhe was so lonely.

He slept.

OOO

ChiChi was not convinced.

He met the description her son had told her. He spoke like a young man that hadnt been taken in by anyone.

But ChiChi didnt believe it.

Pierego had told her that hed heard about the danger she came warning of. That in itself was a bit puzzling. Word didnt spread that fast through villages. Cities, sure but in villages in the mountains? No. Not that fast in any event. Most of the smaller villages had one phone, if they had any at all. Mail took several days. The one real means of communication with a lot of the villages was gossip and that usually took a few days due to the distance between villages. In the mountains, that was especially true.

Sohow had he found out so quickly? He didnt have any type of vehicle to travel between villages so how was that possible? The other childrens families had told her it had only happened within the last few hours. It was a sudden thing. Him suddenly knowingwhen he was way out here, in the middle of nowhere? That made no sense.

She listened to him but she also watched him.

The way he moved, the way he spoke, his gestures.

She didnt like it.

It wasnt even really something she could put her finger on either. He would talk about the other orphans and she felt her heart ache the more she learned about the dead. She even saw his own face go downcast, his fists clench in anger and his slight colorful language at speaking of their deaths

Maybe that was it.

He knew WAY too much.

Subconsciously, she reached back and let her fingertips close around the power pole. She wished she had another weapon. She knew how to fight but that was something she hadnt honed in a long time. She should have kept going until she got to her fathers. The Bansho Fan was there and that was a pretty lethal weapon. It would have been quite useful here.

Still, no point lingering on it. Instead, she focused her eyes on this child, looking for her first opportunityan opportunity for what she wasnt entirely sure. Running until she knew for sure what she was dealing with would have been ideal but that also wasnt her style. She wasnt a runner. Never had been. She took life head on, always had. So, she would deal with thiswhatever this wasas it came.

Twenty-One eyed the woman. She sensed something, Twenty-One could tell. The woman was not standing close to her. She carefully kept out of range and she never took her fingers off that powerpole. She wasnt much of a threat. Gero never even bothered to get much info on her and if her father was any indication, then she wasnt something to be concerned with.

Perhaps she should have taken on one of the girls

How about you tell me who you really are?

Twenty-One paused in her step. Such a question already? She made her face into a bewildered and slightly annoyed look. What are you talking about, Grandma? she responded, with the male voice, a touch resembling a condescending attitude embedded in it.

Ignoring the anger in her body that welled up at being called THAT, ChiChi focused her eyes and drew the pole out from its sheath. I mean who are youyou arent Piegero.

You aint never met me lady-

No but boys dont rub their fingers when theyre thinking.

Twenty One looked down and pulled her fingertips away from one another.

And boys dont swing their hips when they walk.

Twenty One narrowed her eyes. Her hair faded back to its original shade, her eyes back to their prime color. She turned and charged.

She went flying over the woman and landed on her feet.

ChiChi swung the power pole around again and took on a guard position.

Twenty One charged again, saying simply idiot.

OOO

Goku eyed his son who slept soundly in the bed though it had taken quite some doing to get him there. He was upset, rightly so. Goku was too. However, at least that had some kind of answer now!

That had been his son, no doubt about that. But he had been older, sadder, burdened by something. That bugged him. Maybe it shouldnt have. After all, this Gohan was from a completely different time, a completely different universe pretty much. Things hadnt played out for him the way it would here.

But he didnt care. That was still his son.

Goku looked outside. The icy winds that took over the Time Chamber at night were starting to swirl. Goku closed his eyes. He could feel Gohans ki in the bed, soundly sleeping.

He could also feel Gohan out in the white nothingness.

He took a step out into the white, pushing through the wind and cold. He had to fly a little bitit was a ways off.

But he found him.

Curled up on the ground, into a tight ball. He was sleeping, shivering, a faint ki shield keeping the worst of the snow and ice off his body.

Goku let his eyes trail over him.

He was older, with defined muscles which he kept bunched and tense, ready for attack at any moment. He held himself on the defense, even asleep. There was a sense of regret that almost rose off the boy like smoke from a flame. His eyes held no physical tears but Goku could see the stains on the boys cheeks from tears long ago shed.

Didnt son was still his son.

Scooping the boy up in his arms so softly that only years of practice could perfect it, Goku cradled the boy close then turned and walked back.